On September 30, 1913, Edward Evans, an employee of the Bureau of Mines, lost his life during mine rescue maneuvers at a mine of the Union Pacific Coal Company, Rock Springs, Wyoming.
Evans, wearing a mouthpiece-type Draeger oxygen breathing apparatus, was making a training trip underground under oxygen with a complete crew when he collapsed. He was promptly brought to the surface, and an attempt was made to resuscitate him with a pulmotor. A doctor, arriving shortly thereafter, indicated that heart action had ceased. The atmospheres in which the maneuvers were being conducted were irrespirable because of blackdamp.
Despite the fact that Evans apparently was in robust health and had passed several physical examinations in connection with his mine rescue work previous to his death, an autopsy revealed defective heart and kidney conditions. Reports concerning Evans' death indicated that he had spent his entire life in low-altitude sections of the United States and that his work at Rock Springs, where the altitude exceeds 6,000 feet, may have been a contributory cause of his collapse and death.
Although the reports indicated that Evans passed the required physical examination in Pennsylvania, before being engaged in the wearing of breathing apparatus, there was nothing to show that he was given a physical examination before wearing apparatus in high altitudes. A physical examination given previous to entering the mine, in this instance, might have revealed the defective heart condition. So far as could be determined, the apparatus worn by Evans was not defective.
At the time of this accident, the authorities were beginning to realize that there was much need for improving breathing apparatus. Tests conducted previously on the Draeger apparatus in England indicated that the regenerator of the apparatus could not absorb all of the carbon dioxide exhaled by the wearer while performing strenuous work.